How did you get in the culinary world? What inspires you?
My original inspiration came from baking with my great-grandmother, my mother and my grandmother at a very young age. We were always baking, cookies and pies and desserts relating to the holidays. I was really lucky to get to bake with my great-grandmother. She was from that generation where you didn’t go to someone’s house without bringing something with you that you actually made — now you bring a bottle of wine and open it — it wasn’t like that back then. I took my first professional cooking course at the age of 8, it really inspired my love of food and cooking, which ended up with me going to culinary school in Boston in my early 20s.
Why baking over cooking?
Pastry is really zen-like in the way you work with it. With cooking, you taste and test and along the way, but pastry is an art form in the sense that you don’t know what the end is going to be until you finish the product and have it in front of you.
Your number one baking tip?
Read your recipe thoroughly from beginning to end and set up ingredients before you start baking. So often, people don’t measure properly, or their oven isn’t preheated — which is always the first thing a recipe tells you — preheat your oven! There are details in a recipe for a reason; patience is a virtue when it comes to baking.
What is the best part of job as chief baking officer?
Well, first of all, I have this awesome fun title — and I get to create new product. How fun is that? Who gets to do that? It’s a great thing to be able to come up with, develop, and recreate flavors and watch people be happy as a result.
What is your favorite menu item at Magnolia Bakery right now?
I’m happy that you said “right now,” since my favorites are always changing. Currently, it’s definitely our cupcake of the month for January called Magic Cake, which is kind of a play on the Girl Scouts Samoa cookie. It’s coconut cake with coconut-caramel-pecan filling, chocolate ganache glaze, caramel buttercream and caramel drizzle and coconut ganache. It is so incredibly good.
Are you into art at all?
Yes, of course! Last night my husband and I went to an arts fair downtown, and after an hour and a half I couldn’t walk around anymore because it was all just too great. Our walls are full of art, we actually can’t buy anymore artwork because there’s really nowhere it put it. I find that I’m drawn to early 20th century modern art Impressionism. It’s really hard to pick a favorite artist, it’s like having to pick a favorite food, but if I had to pick one it’d have to be Picasso.